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Old 27-11-2017, 20:45   #1
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AIS Transponder for security

I leave my boat on a mooring. I am considering buying a transponder as a watchful eye to transmit my boats location while I'm not on board. Power is not a problem for I have ample solar and battery storage.

Any thoughts.
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Old 27-11-2017, 21:00   #2
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Re: AIS Transponder for security

I have one of these. I use a Tmobile pay-as-you go Sim in it that costs me less than $5 a month in usage. There's no monthly contract. It sends a sms to my phone if the GPS says the boat has moved outside a "fence". Mine also sends me a message for any of the following:

If the battery voltage goes below 12.5v (besides charging problems this happens if someone cranks the engine starter)

If a water sensor 1" above the bilge pump float switch turn-on height gets wet.

If a $10 motion sensor aimed at the bottom of the companionway steps sees anything.

I also have it automatically send a "test" message once a day to my phone telling me the current voltage and temperature onboard. It only costs $0.10 for an SMS and it makes me smile to be in a boring meeting and get a happy message from my boat

https://www.ebay.com/itm/GSM-GPS-ala...wAAOxyf1dTHtOq
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Old 27-11-2017, 21:19   #3
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Re: AIS Transponder for security

We leave our AIS on all the time, that way we can see via various web sites that it is still on its mooring. Quite a few other people near where we are do the same thing.
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Old 28-11-2017, 05:45   #4
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Re: AIS Transponder for security

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Originally Posted by CarlF View Post
That's pretty cool, thanks!

I did a little surfing and found this thing (no idea if it's any good) on Amazon for under $20. This just shows you there are lots of options out there now.

Anyway, AIS is a great idea for its own sake. I've never been inclined to leave it on for security purposes, but I do have it wired so that it'll come on when the mains are started. I did this mostly for convenience, but it did occur to me that it would be handy if someone were ever foolish enough to want to steal my boat.
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Old 28-11-2017, 05:52   #5
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Re: AIS Transponder for security

I think AIS can help with security, but in that case it would probably be best to put it somewhere out of sight, so that a thief won't immediately see it and turn it off.
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Old 28-11-2017, 09:16   #6
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Re: AIS Transponder for security

Carl, I'm not technical so can you explain in more detail how you set this up, and what you items you need to monitor all the various items you track.

Thanks
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Old 28-11-2017, 09:31   #7
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Re: AIS Transponder for security

You also have the option of using the Spot Trace. It retails for around $100 U.S., is satellite based, and will send you alerts if it moves. The alerts can be texts and/or e-mails. You can track the movement via Google Maps. It uses line power from you boat's (or vehicle) battery and it also have the option of using some AAA batteries as a back up.

There is a service fee of $200 (2.5 min tracking) OR $100 (5 min to 1 hr tracking) per year or $20 per month. West Marine has them on sale for a short time at $50 (https://www.westmarine.com/buy/spot-...97?recordNum=1). You can also get them at other places such as Amazon ($85 or less), and of course the spot website (www.findmespot.com). Spot also has them on sale for half price.
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Old 28-11-2017, 09:54   #8
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AIS Transponder for security

There are some limitations to your objectives of security using AIS. Firstly, it will only ‘see’ other vessels that also have an AIS system. So those boats without it, and most small craft, recreational boats, do not have AIS, will not be seen on your AIS screen. For larger, commercial ships, AIS is a mandatory requirement providing they are in compliance and turn it on. So while you may be able to receive AIS warnings (CPA, TCPA) remotely your highest security risk is with small craft for which AIS will have no benefit.

If you have a radar that can be turned on to scan at preset time intervals and send out alarms when a boat comes within a preset distance.....

I would imagine you’d also need a wifi based transmitting and recording device for this too unless you can keep a watchful eye on it 24/7.
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Old 28-11-2017, 09:56   #9
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Re: AIS Transponder for security

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gulf Islander View Post
I leave my boat on a mooring. I am considering buying a transponder as a watchful eye to transmit my boats location while I'm not on board. Power is not a problem for I have ample solar and battery storage.

Any thoughts.
That will tell you if your boat is drifting away or if someone is stealing it. Other than that it's not much of a security system. It won't let you know it someone is stealing things off it or if it's filling up with water.

There are some folks who get really upset with people leaving their AIS on and transmitting when their boat is not underway. Just saying.
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Old 28-11-2017, 11:01   #10
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Re: AIS Transponder for security

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That will tell you if your boat is drifting away or if someone is stealing it. Other than that it's not much of a security system. It won't let you know it someone is stealing things off it or if it's filling up with water.

There are some folks who get really upset with people leaving their AIS on and transmitting when their boat is not underway. Just saying.
I don't get upset, but I do get mildly irritated when folks live there AIS turned on when the boat is docked. It makes for a lot more clutter on my screen and my AIS keeps barking at me and telling me that there is a dangerous vessel within my circle, which is of course not dangerous at all. When the boat is moored I am less likely to get annoyed because if I can see it on AIS I won't run into it. :--)

Al, S/V Finlandia
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Old 28-11-2017, 11:33   #11
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Re: AIS Transponder for security

I have a Vesper AIS that works great. I started with inbound only on my VHF but the pilot in me likes to “see and be seen.”
I also have a Garmin InReach which is a hit with family and friends when I’m offshore.
I would caution about going cheap as you will want to use AIS or a tracking / communication device like the InReach when using your boat too.
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Old 28-11-2017, 12:16   #12
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Re: AIS Transponder for security

Right now, just be very aware that any gadget which "requires 2G network" or similar, may be a paperweight in a few months. The major US carriers have all mentioned dropping 2G service entirely, and replacing those "cards" with newer cards in their towers. (There's only so much room, as 5G comes in, something has to go out.)

AT&T had said they were dropping 2G this year, and stopped selling 2G tracking devices already. TMobile *might* keep 2G longer, because the customers that switched over from AT&T often had older phones that were only compatible on 2G. That won't stop change-over plans forever though.

2G is already tombstoned in the US. That's one reason the devices are so cheap, to clear them out.
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Old 28-11-2017, 12:23   #13
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Re: AIS Transponder for security

To respond to some of the above questions. Definitely get an AIS transponder anyways. It's my favorite bit of boat technology since the chartplotter. I don't know anyone who has gotten one who would not want it in their next boat.

Please don't waste your time reading the rest of this if you don't particularly care about this or a similar GSM alarm. Life is short.

And fair warning. This alarm has worked great for me but I don't know these guys (they are in Lithuania). There's always some risk to Ebay.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/GSM-GPS-ala...wAAOxyf1dTHtOq

There are many of these GSM alarms available. I chose this one three years ago because a)it supports US GSM frequencies - back then called "quad band" b) reports voltage and temperature. At the time it was the only one I could find but I expect there are others now.

I hid it in a cabinet behind some other electronics with double sided tape. Same with the included cell phone antenna and GPS puck both of which seem to work fine through the deck. It has lots of wires coming out, most of which you'll bundle up and not use. I wired it into an 'always on" 12v circuit. Don't forget a fuse. I think it was 1 amp. It draws much less. When you are aboard have a switch or pull the fuse so it doesn't keep sending you SMS messages that you are moving.

The water sensor and wired PIR motion sensor both came off Amazon. The water sensor went to a NO circuit on the alarm. The motion sensor to a NC circuit. The wire colors tell you which one to use in the manual.

As to setup, first take a look at the downloadable manuals on the Ebay listing. They are pretty good.

I did the following (I think it would be similar for many of these alarms):

Ordered a T-mobile prepaid sim online. Tmobile because their month minimum was lowest ($3). Was like this: https://www.ebay.com/itm/GSM-GPS-ala...c=1&rmvSB=true

Put the Sim card in a phone to activate. Then setup a Tmobile account on line. I picked the $3/month prepaid pay-as-you-go that includes 30 messages. No contract. They charge it against an amount you put in with a credit card - like $15. The money does eventually expire so you don't want to put in too much. When it runs out, put in some more money.

Now take the sim out of the phone and put it in the alarm. You may need an adapter that costs $1 or so online because Sims are different sizes. When you're cruising you could always take this SIM out of the alarm and put it in a spare phone and use as a backup to your regular phone.

The alarm had a USB plug. I plugged that into a windows laptop and installed the software from the ebay listing. The software has a screen to fill in the phone numbers to send the SMS to as well as lots of other options. For example, you can specify the exact "alarm" voltage for it to send an SMS and the size of your "GPS fence". Once setup you can send SMS messages from your phone to it to change settings instead of plugging in a computer.

One nifty extra feature is you can "call" it on a telephone and listen to an included microphone to hear what's going on in your boat - like an alarm going off or an engine running.
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Old 28-11-2017, 13:33   #14
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Re: AIS Transponder for security

One simple approach to monitoring the location of your boat is to have an iPhone or iPad in the boat and check its location via the "find my iPhone" app or web service (https://www.icloud.com/#find). You can enhance that e.g. by installing a video monitoring app that will show you what's going on at the boat. I'm sure something similar works in other brands too.
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Old 29-11-2017, 05:57   #15
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Re: AIS Transponder for security

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One simple approach to monitoring the location of your boat is to have an iPhone or iPad in the boat and check its location via the "find my iPhone" app or web service (https://www.icloud.com/#find). You can enhance that e.g. by installing a video monitoring app that will show you what's going on at the boat. I'm sure something similar works in other brands too.
Somewhere (I thought it was here) I just found out about an app called "Alfred." It works on my Android, not sure if there's an iOS version, but probably.

Anyway, it turns your old cell phone into a webcam. Very cool use for those aging cell phones that you have lying around. Obviously you'd need to pay for a cellular data plan if you didn't have WiFi at your boat, but most marinas do now.
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